Convicted cop in Benazir murder case takes charge as SSP Special Branch

RAWALPINDI: According to a notification that was circulated, senior superintendent of police (SSP) and one of the accused in the Benazir Bhutto murder case Khurram Shahzad has been reinstated as the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Special Branch on Monday night.

Shahzad has reportedly taken charge of his official duties following his reinstatement.

According to the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) verdict on August 31, 2017, Shahzad, as well as former additional inspector general Saud Aziz, were sentenced to 17 years in jail in addition to a payment of fine in the Benazir murder case.

Subsequently, Shahzad was taken to Adiala Jail and Aziz was taken into custody as well.

Later, however, the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC)  suspended the sentence and notified the reinstatement of Shahzad as SSP Special Branch.

It is pertinent to mention that Shahzad was serving as SSP Special Branch at the time of being sentenced. Aziz, however, is currently retired from the police force.

According to LHC’s Rawalpindi branch’s ruling on October 6, Shahzad and Aziz’s jail term have been suspended and their fines cancelled a day before.

According to reports, the LHC’s division bench had approved bail of the accused policemen on payment of surety bonds worth Rs 2 million each.

Earlier, the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Asghar Khan had sentenced both policemen to 17 years of jail term each 10 years in prison under Section 119 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and seven years under Section 201 of the PPC.

They were also fined Rs. 1 million each for “facilitating [the] commission of an offence” and for being negligent.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on August 31 had announced the verdict in the Benazir Bhutto murder case almost after 10 years, sentencing two police officers to 17 years imprisonment for being “negligent” while acquitting the five suspects belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)—who were indicted in 2008. The court also declared the then-president Pervez Musharraf an absconder in the case.

The next hearing in the case is on November 27.

Subsequently, the two convicted officers petitioned against the ATC’s verdict on grounds that the police officers had provided adequate security at Liaquat Bagh, the venue of the rally addressed by Bhutto. They said that the two officers have been made “scapegoats” even though the prosecution did not have any solid evidence against them

Thereafter, the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) on September 29 had filed a petition in the LHC’s Rawalpindi Bench challenging the ATC’s decision in the murder case on grounds that there was concrete evidence against the five accused who had been acquitted in the case owing to lack of evidence.